Legislation To Impose Fee on Golf Courses is Rejected

Delegate says singling out four Montgomery country clubs didn’t make sense

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Columbia Country Club

File photo

A bill that would have imposed a $100,000 fee on four country clubs in Montgomery County is dead.

The Montgomery County delegation to the House of Delegates killed the measure Friday and the chairman says the members ultimately couldn’t understand why four clubs were being singled out.

The bill, sponsored by Del. David Moon, a Takoma Park Democrat, would have levied the fee on Columbia Country Club, Bethesda Country Club, Kenwood Golf and Country Club and Chevy Chase Club, the four clubs in the county with land values of more than $500,000 an acre.

The delegation voted 13-11 at its meeting to give the bill an “unfavorable report,” meaning that it will not advance this session of the state legislature, which has reached its midpoint.

“There was a lot of ambiguity as to why that made sense,” delegation chair Del. Marc Korman, a Bethesda Democrat, said. “I am concerned about targeting a few specific clubs.”

Clubs on more than 50 acres and with more than 100 members pay a $1,000-per-acre rate instead of the market property tax rate.

A previous version of the bill would have taxed the clubs at the market rate, but Del. Vaughn Stewart, a Derwood Democrat, amended the bill because he thought it would be more likely to pass, and to ensure that the county begin receiving revenue to its general fund from the fees.

The bill’s sponsors said additional tax collections could help the county.

Korman voted against the bill, citing the confusion about limiting the fee to specific clubs, two of which are in his district. He added that he was worried about the environmental impact the bill might have, in the event developers built on the land. He noted that other areas of the county, such as agricultural areas and conservation easements, also receive tax exemptions.

“There’s a lot of concern about development in Montgomery County, and these clubs are zoned for residential,” he said.

Korman said he expects that the bill would return in next year’s session, and that he is still “open to taking a look at how we tax golf courses.”

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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